In my 41 years as a Physical Therapist, I have worked with many people whose lives are out of balance. These imbalances manifest in many aspects of their lives. They feel overwhelmed and drained of energy. They feel they can’t live up to all the demands in their lives, though they think they should be able to. They suffer emotionally, spiritually, and physically. When they are in physical pain, they to come to me.
What I have learned is: the body is the physical manifestation of our emotional and spiritual selves. When we don’t pay attention to our body and what it needs, it tends to wreak havoc. Our low emotional tone is manifest as low physical tone and our low physical tone manifests as low emotional tone. People often complain of “having really bad posture” or “really weak abdominal muscles”. They try hard to “sit up straight” thinking they should be able to, but this strategy is doomed to fail. They really don’t know how to have better posture and what they are doing doesn’t work. They need help.
There is an old joke that goes: If God had wanted us to be successful in this life, he would have given us better instructions. I feel this is why so many of us are having such a hard time with our bodies, nobody gave us good instructions on how to use it well. Add to that most of our chairs, car seats, sofas, and shoes aren’t designed to give us the support we need, we then have less of a chance of being successful in making meaningful and effective changes in our body.
Most of us (let’s say all of us) are overwhelmed by the demands of our lives. There are things we have to do, there are things we need to do, and there are things we want to do. Usually, taking care of ourselves and our bodies are in the last category. We can do the something to regain balance and be successful.
Prioritize. Set aside 15 minutes to write a list of everything you would like to do for yourself. Just like on the airlines, you have to put on your oxygen mask before you help other people—you have take care of yourself before you help others. Pick the top of your priority list. It can be related to exercise, diet, taking a class in yoga or meditation or just beginning a walking program at lunch.
Set short-term or small goals. In Physical Therapy, when a person has an injury, we have long-term goals and short-term goals. We always focus on the long-term goal by setting realistic short-term goals. Once we are successful with the short-term goals, we set more short-term goals. It feels great to be able to check off our accomplishments.
Ask for help and support. The biggest mistake people make is to think they can do it all themselves. Ask a friend or family member for help with meeting your short-term goals. Tell them what you want to do and ask them to check in on you on a given date (it needs to be at least once a week) and see if you were successful. If you did what you said you would do—celebrate! If you are not successful, ask for help to determine if your short-term goals were unrealistic or if you need more support (maybe a daily check in at the beginning).
If you are in pain or are beginning an exercise program, ask for professional help. You will be more successful if you are knowledgeable about your body.
Once you begin accomplishing your goals, your life can begin to be in balance. You will find the health and strength of your body will manifest in all aspects of your life.